CEBU City, August 8, 2015—Taking on Pope Francis’ challenge to “smell like sheep,” priests from all over Central Philippines have recently expressed desire to serve the poor in light of their vocation and the Gospel, vowing to ensure better access to the sacraments for the poor.
“Freely we received, freely we give,” said the priests in a statement given at the Second Visayas-wide Clergy Discernment Gathering (VCDG II) held from July 27 to 28 in Quiot, Cebu City.
In order for them to relate better with their poor flock, the pastors point out that no one should be denied the sacraments due to poverty.
Waste time with the poor
The priests, who gathered for the theme “In the Year of the Poor, Visayas Clergy Discerning Together to be More Effective Pastors of the Poor”, also challenge one another not to be afraid to lose a wealthy sponsor or powerful benefactor for the sake of those who have less.
Moreover, they promise to constantly remind themselves of their own poverty, literally and figuratively.
“As such, we align ourselves with the poor, making true our commitment of preferential love for them and of their empowerment towards integral development and liberation,” add the priests.
In their collective statement, members of the Visayan clergy promise, among others, to make time and “waste” time with the poor, learning from them, experiencing their pain, feeling their joys and triumphs, and sharing their dreams, keeping in mind the Holy Father’s message that “The true shepherd sees his sheep, feels compassion for them and devotes his energy to care for them.”
The pastors go on to promise to be always aware that everything they are and have is God’s gift to them and is, therefore, a sacred trust.
“Every centavo shared to our Church community is a precious offering that we should handle with great care and gratitude; therefore, we make our own personal and parish financial report reflective of our choice to follow Christ the Poor and our solidarity with the poor,” they explain.
An archbishop, three bishops, and 80 priests from Archdioceses of Cebu and Jaro as well as the Dioceses of Bacolod, Catarman, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Naval, Romblon, San Carlos, San Jose de Antique, and Talibon attended the event. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)